Friday, November 20, 2020

Music History Today: November 21, 2020

November 21, 1975: In the UK, Queen released their fourth album, A Night At The Opera, containing the hits "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "You're My Best Friend."

Work on Queen’s fourth album, another co-produced by the band along with Roy Thomas Baker, began in August 1975, and it was only finished shortly before the opening date of their tour at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre on 14 November. 

Queen A Night At The Opera album cover

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A Night At The Opera, as we all now know, is a masterpiece. Everything from its title (one that is borrowed from The Marx Brothers 1935 movie) to the music, the album’s artwork and the whole pomp and circumstance of the entire package is majestic.  
Read more: U Discover Music

November 21, 1960: Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs' "Stay" hit Number 1 in America.

The song "Stay" is about a boy wants the girl to stick around, but she’s got a curfew. So he does everything he can think of, including transforming his voice into a helium whine, to convince her to give him a few more minutes. It’s a sexual-frustration anthem for the ages. 

Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs
Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs

The irony, of course, is that the song where the boy begs the girl to stick around does not, itself, stick around. “Stay” is 98 seconds long. It’s the shortest song that has ever reached #1 in the US, and I don’t think anyone will ever come close to breaking that record. 

Read more: Stereogum

November 21, 1980: Steely Dan released Gaucho. 

A man flees west, pursued by saxophones. That’s how Steely Dan’s Gaucho starts, with “Babylon Sisters,” a foreboding melody that creeps into the room like toxic fog, and a lyric about a guy in a car en route to a three-way. 

Steely Dan’s Gaucho artwork

While the horn section keeps rupturing the mood the keyboards are trying to set, the narrator spins stick-with-me-baby fantasies of California leisure and hedonism for his female companion(s). Good times! Is it any wonder Gaucho—the seventh Steely Dan album, and the last one Donald Fagen and Walter Becker would make together until the year 2000—is the one even some hardcore Danimals find it tough to fully cozy up to? 

Read more: Pitchfork

November 21, 1980: REO Speedwagon released the epic album Hi Infidelity.

When REO Speedwagon started work on the album that would become Hi Infidelity, they had no idea that they were on the edge of monster commercial success.

The record also gave the band its first No. 1 single, “Keep on Loving You.” In all, REO scored four Top 40 hits from the album, including "In Your Letter."

Read more: Ultimate Classic Rock

November 21, 1981: The Queen/David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure" went to number 1 in the UK, Queen's first chart-topper there since "Bohemian Rhapsody."

In July of 1981, David Bowie went into a recording studio in Switzerland with Queen and made “Under Pressure,” a song that would become one of his most ubiquitous and most recognizable recordings, even though it never appeared on a proper Bowie album. 

The song hit No. 1 in the U.K. and cracked the Top 30 in the U.S., then enjoyed a second American life when Vanilla Ice jacked its iconic bass line for “Ice Ice Baby,” which hit No. 1 in 1990.  
Read more: Slate

 You're My Best Friend

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